‘What Happened and What’s Going On’
And we’re back! After a midseason hiatus that certainly felt longer than usual – perhaps due to the sheer ambiguity of the note on which we ended last year – The Walking Dead returned, although it wasn’t quite in the style we might have expected.
Central to the episode’s unusual approach was (SPOILER ALERT) the death of Tyreese. To see such an important character exit the show, especially one who in the comics is a continually vital presence over the story, was a shock, and this shock was only exacerbated by the fact that it comes so soon after Beth’s death, and only a few more episodes further back to the death of Bob.
Given the subject matter, TWD obviously has a penchant for killing people off when you least expect it, yet for all the apparent randomness of cast changes, it’s still scripted fiction occurring at the whim of the show runner and additional writers. When this principle is considered, one has to question whether having so many key deaths – coupled with the revelation concerning Washington and Eugene’s lie late in the first half of the season – has lessened the impact of each individual event.
Yet for all the question marks hanging over when and how Tyreese should have gone, the fact that it did happen allowed for some interesting and creative execution. Gone was the usual blunt realism that usually accompanies such scenes to great effect, and in its place came a bizarre dream state as Tyreese talked to the dead. The returning cast was quite something, from Martin (of Terminus), through Lizzie, Mika, Beth and Bob, to the most shocking of returns: David Morrissey’s The Governor.
The way the ‘angel/demon on the shoulder’ dynamic played out between the deceased cast was fascinating, if only to witness one last moment with these actors. However, it still didn’t diminish the unshakeable feeling that this seemed like a whole lot of filler. There have been plenty of significant deaths on the show, yet for all the love viewers felt for Tyreese, was his death really that much more important than that of Shane, Dale, Hershel or The Governor?
The show did regain some much-needed momentum, as they made plans to head to Washington, reasoning that for all Eugene’s lies, it still remains the best hope for civilisation. I’m not too keen on this sudden ‘fast travel’ attitude though. After so long stuck in Georgia, it seemed like there was nowhere else to go, and suddenly we cross states in mere on-screen minutes, with Washington apparently ‘only 100 miles away’. Still, in true TWD spirit, something is bound to get in the way at some point.
The mid-season premiere was an intriguing return for the show, kicking off the second half of the season as it means to go on. Roll on the next seven episodes.